, Gloucester, MA

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September 9, 2013

Reviving Lanes Cove history

Lanesville gathers to salute fish shack's restoration

It was late June 2011 when the initial orders came down from City Hall:

Lanes Cove’s best known and last historic fish shack — Morey’s Fish Shack, built in the late 1800s — was a goner. It was in such a rundown and fragile condition, in fact, that city Building Inspector William Sanborn found it “unsafe and dangerous,” and he could not even authorize repair work to try to fix it.

Yet, this past Saturday, a group of proud Lanesville residents, city officials and others gathered at the fish shack to not only celebrate its preservation, but its restoration as well — thanks to a partnership between residents who carried out a private fund-raising effort and the city, which carried out aspects of the project through its Department of Public Works.

After meeting with Sanborn that summer, Public Works director Michael Hale, Lanesville archivist Gregg Smith, City Council president Jackie Hardy, who represents Lanesville, set the wheels in motion by having the council address the declared “emergency.”

Mayor Carolyn Kirk formed a building committee, and the fish shack’s present and future were in sight, with Barbara Jobe and Arnie Shore co-chairing the private fund-raising campaign and city DPW facilities manager James Hafey heading up the work. All were on hand to participate in Saturday’s restoration celebration.

The earliest fish shacks — dozens existed at their peak — were built more than 200 years ago, Smith has found, with many of them constructed from shipwrecks.

While the Lanes Cove fish shack does not have the cache of Rockport’s more famous shack — its distinctively red Motif No. 1 — the Lanes Cove structure has long been a source of community pride, serving as a throwback to the cove’s and village’s fishing glory days.

The now-restored shack was long called Morey’s Shack for its one-time owner, well-known lobsterman George Morey, was primarily used to store fishing nets, Smith has said.

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